Bankers win £44m bonus claim against Commerzbank
Friday 26 April 2013
More than 100 London investment bankers who sued Commerzbank for €52 million (£44 million) over unpaid bonuses today won a landmark victory when the Court of Appeal upheld the decision in an unanimous verdict.
Several bankers are in line for at least £1 million each.
Commerzbank responded in unusually strong language, saying it was “disappointed” with this “regrettable” decision and expressed surprise at the way the English legal system worked. “In other jurisdictions, national courts upheld Commerzbank’s position,” said the banking giant, noting how a court in Germany rejected a similar claim while Italian and Japanese courts have also been more favourable towards the bank.
Commerzbank said it was particularly surprised given “the ongoing regulatory, public and shareholder calls to establish a sound relationship between banks’ performance and variable remuneration”. The bank, advised by legal giant Linklaters, is “considering its legal options”, which could involve going to the Supreme Court.
The 104 London bankers originally sued Commerzbank in 2009 because they claimed that they had been given a guarantee over the bonuses in August 2008 at a meeting with senior management in London.
At the time, the bankers worked for Dresdner Kleinwort. The bank was then bought by Commerzbank, which was bailed out by German taxpayers, and bosses tried to slash bonuses by 90% in early 2009. However, the bankers, who hired two London solicitors, Stewarts Law and Mishcon de Reya, said Commerzbank had reneged on a contractual obligation.
The Court of Appeal has now upheld an earlier verdict by the High Court, which ruled in May last year that the bonuses should have been paid — despite the worldwide banking collapse of autumn 2008.
Clive Zietman, head of commercial litigation at Stewarts Law, which acted for 83 of the bankers, said: “This is not just a victory for my clients. It is a triumph for common sense and for some very well-established principles of English contract law. It is a great pity that the bank saw fit to contest so vigorously and for so long, a case that could so easily have been avoided.”
The bankers’ original claim was for around £30 million but the bill has climbed, partly because of legal costs. Commerzbank maintained bonuses were “provisional” and it was “reasonable” to cut them after Dresdner made a loss in 2008.
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Jason Derulo falling over in epic fashion, the event's most talked about moment, wasn't what it seemed
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...
£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...